History of the Stomacher®

Celebrating 50 years of Stomacher® 1972 – 2022

In 1972 the first Stomacher® paddle blender processed its very first food sample.  It was the beginning of modern-day food microbiology.  Since then, Seward and our range of Stomacher® paddle blenders have been at the forefront of sample preparation across a range of applications, from food safety to cutting edge microbiome research.

Our story follows the journey of Dr. Anthony N. Sharpe, who invented that first Stomacher® along with his colleague Dr Adrian Jackson. This is the story of the Stomacher®.

Chapter One:

How the Stomacher®came to be by Dr. Anthony N. Sharpe

At the start of the 1970’s, after moving into the Microbiology Division of Unilever Ltd’s Colworth House Research Laboratory (Bedfordshire, UK) I was tasked with improving efficiency in the 25 or so food microbiology labs in Unilever’s food manufacturing plants.

Processing techniques for the mass production of food products were less safe than traditional home cooking, and this was becoming more prevalent.

Chapter Two:

How the Stomacher got its name and took over the world by Dr. Anthony N. Sharpe

Within a day I had also coined the name Stomacher®. Well, the paddle action is a bit like peristalsis. It’s worth noting that my first choice was “Gizzard”, which was rejected!

This was based on the fact that the Gizzard is a muscular part of a bird’s digestive tract, where food is ground down with small stones the bird deliberately swallows. So, again, some similarity to the Stomacher® process.

Chapter Three:

The Stomacher®My legacy by Dr Anthony Sharpe

At the Patents Dept in Unilever House, agent Tom Tribe wrote a very successful patent disclosure and no other company managed to market a competitive machine until the patents expired. I continued to invent and design products after leaving Unilever.

One of these, (called the Pulsifier), inspired Seward to develop the Stomacher® 400 Circulator. Seward engineers, referring to mine and Adrian’s original published paper…

Chapter Four:

The technical bits By Dr Anthony Sharpe

For the original Stomacher® 400 (Sharpe and Jackson 1972), which is the most popular model in food microbiology labs, we used a 230-rpm induction (more or less constant speed) motor. The 80-model had a series-wound motor that got faster as the machine warmed up but peaked around 500 rpm.

For the 3000 model, I think we used a 180-rpm induction motor. Recommended stomaching times of 30 seconds basically came from the original paper (Sharpe and Jackson 1972)…